World News

Stolen Vodka Bottle, Said to Be Worth $1.3 Million, Is Found Drained and Dented

Posted January 6, 2018 3:59 p.m. EST

COPENHAGEN — It was meant to be a collector’s secret, but someone knew the secret, stole the secret and, it seems, drank the secret: what the owner calls “the most expensive vodka bottle in the world.”

The bottle was created by Dartz Motorz, a car manufacturer in Riga, Latvia, and fitted with an original 1912 leather ribbon from the company’s first Monte Carlo rally car.

The bottle is made of 6.6 pounds of gold and the equivalent amount of silver and has a diamond-encrusted cap fashioned to resemble a vintage car front.

It had been borrowed and placed in a pub, Cafe 33, in central Copenhagen amid a collection of fine spirits assembled by Brian Ingberg, the bar’s owner.

The bottle was worth $1.3 million, according to Ingberg.

The vodka bottle, said to be one of a kind, was so coveted that it made a brief appearance in the third season of Netflix’s “House of Cards.” On the show, the Russian president, Viktor Petrov, introduces it in a toast to his American counterpart, Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey.

During the show, the bottle was said to be worth $750,000.

On Tuesday, a masked thief sneaked into Cafe 33 with a flashlight, poked around and absconded with the bottle from Ingberg’s collection of vodkas gathered over a quarter-century.

A surveillance video showed a man using a key to enter the basement of the pub, locating and picking out the bottle, and dashing out with it.

The theft made headlines the world over. “The bottle used to be a secret,” Ingberg lamented, “but it isn’t any more.”

But on Friday, after days of searching, police announced that the world’s most expensive vodka bottle had been found, dented.

And empty.

The vessel was found at the entrance to a building site in Charlottenlund, an affluent district north of the Danish capital.

“There’s no doubt the thief got cold feet,” Ingberg said in an interview Saturday. “He placed it there because he wanted it to be found.”

The Copenhagen police said in a Twitter post that the bottle was being examined for any leads and that no further information on the case would be released.

Shortly before the vessel was found, Ingberg said he had been contacted by a man who said that he knew who had the bottle and that the thief wanted to return it to the collector.

“I got the feeling that he felt he was in trouble because of the police and Leon in Russia wanting to send people out to look for it,” Ingberg said, referring to Leonard F. Yankelovich, Dartz’s founder and the actual owner of the bottle. “It’s not the most fun item to possess.”

Ingberg said the bottle, with the formal name of the Dartz and Russo-Baltique vodka bottle, was given to him by Yankelovich on an indefinite loan.

“He said he felt this was the right place for the bottle to be,” Ingberg said, adding that the bottle, more than its contents, was the reason for the theft’s global headlines.

“I thought it was a New Year’s joke, but it was not a joke,” Yankelovich said Saturday. But he said he had a strong feeling the bottle would come back: “I trust the god of vodka.”

He said the bottle had been made two to three years ago, and the price — what he called “the bottle’s historical value” — was based on the expensive materials used. “It is the most expensive vodka bottle in the world,” he maintained, adding that other images of vodka bottles online claiming to be more expensive were fake.

Ingberg described the vodka, made with melted snow from the French Alps, as “very tasty” and “smooth and round,” but added, “It’s difficult to attribute a taste to wheat-based vodka.”

The bottle’s location in Copenhagen was known to only a few people, he said, adding that he had hoped to keep it that way. But since the thief had a key, he suspects a copy had been made from an employee’s key.

But what about the contents of the lost-and-found bottle?

“Leon,” he said, “has promised to fill the bottle again.”